Collison, Clippers complete comeback, even series
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Darren Collison was the unlikely hero Sunday, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers went from the brink of elimination to evening their wildly entertaining Western Conference semifinal series with the Thunder.
The Clippers trailed Oklahoma City by 22 points nine minutes into the game and by 16 in the early stages of the fourth before Collison spearheaded a stunning comeback that gave Los Angeles a 101-99 victory.
The turnaround, which was sealed when Russell Westbrook missed a 3-point try at the buzzer, sends the series back to Oklahoma City tied at 2-2, with Game 5 set for Tuesday.
Blake Griffin played the final 8:44 with five fouls and scored 10 of his 25 points down the stretch for a Clippers team that made 13 of its last 16 shots.
Chris Paul finished with 23 points, 10 assists and just one turnover for Los Angeles, which surrendered 40 points to Kevin Durant but forced the league MVP into eight of his team's 16 turnovers.
"We had to score and get stops, and we did that," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "It's now a three-game series."
Westbrook totaled 27 points and eight assists in a setback that seemed far from the realm of possibility when the Thunder led by 16 three minutes into the final quarter.
The Clippers, who were shooting 33.8 percent from the floor until that point, converted on six straight trips during a 12-2 run to pull within 84-78 with over six minutes to play.
Westbrook later rattled in an elbow jumper for a seven-point Oklahoma City lead, but six consecutive Clippers points capped by Collison's dunk off a Durant giveaway suddenly made it a 90-89 game.
"We finally made a lot of defensive plays that got our offense going," Collison said.
Griffin's three-point play tied it, 94-94, with 1:50 remaining, and Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer the next time down gave LA its first lead at 97-95.
Westbrook countered with a quick tying two, but it was his former UCLA teammate who came up with the deciding buckets.
First, Collison pumped-faked Durant into leaving the entire left side of the court open for an easy go-ahead layup. Then, after a Westbrook miss, Collison got behind the defense for an uncontested layup and a 101-97 Clippers lead with just 32.8 seconds showing.
A Westbrook basket out of a timeout followed by a Griffin miss gave the Thunder one final shot, but Westbrook's try from several feet behind the 3- point line drew iron, sending the Staples Center crowd into celebration.
"I had a good look, but it didn't go in," Westbrook said. "It's a tough loss, but its a series. We'll go back home and take care of business."
Griffin's day began when he took an inadvertent Serge Ibaka blow to the groin, a sign of Los Angeles' rough start.
Oklahoma City made 11 of its first 13 shots for a commanding 29-7 lead, as Westbrook began the onslaught with a tomahawk jam in transition while accounting for 11 points and four assists during the torrid start.
It was 32-15 in the Thunder's favor heading into a second quarter that saw the Clippers inch closer. They were within four, 39-35, following a 20-5 spurt in the early stages, though the Thunder answered with nine of the next 11 points in rebuild their double-digit advantage.
The chippy frame ended with a Nick Collison putback that gave the Thunder a 57-46 lead, though Westbrook was whistled for technical foul after the buzzer.
Both teams shot under 30 percent from the field in an even third quarter, and Reggie Jackson's 3-pointer to beat the shot clock in the closing seconds sent the visitors into the fourth with a 75-63 advantage.
There was one lead change Sunday after Game 3 featured 19 ... The Clippers improved to 7-0 in Game 4s when trailing the series 2-1 ... Oklahoma City shot 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) over the final three quarters ... Crawford netted 18 points off the bench ... The Clippers scored 52 points in the paint, compared to 32 for Oklahoma City.
05/11 19:32:58 ET